Mercedes-Benz’s compact lineup and flagship S-Class sedan helped the third-ranked maker of premium cars beat sales growth last month at Audi AG and BMW, the larger German competitors that it’s striving to overtake by 2020.
July deliveries at Mercedes, the main nameplate of Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler AG, jumped 11 percent from a year earlier for a seven-month gain of 13 percent. Audi, the world’s second-biggest luxury-car producer, sold 9.7 percent more cars last month. Market leader Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s namesake brand said Friday that sales increased 8.4 percent.
Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche plans 30 new Mercedes vehicles by the end of the decade in the brand’s bid to retake the top spot in global luxury car sales that it lost to BMW in 2005. The Munich-based rival, seeking to protect its top rank against both Mercedes and Audi, is responding with new models such as coupes brought out in the past year and the van-like 2-Series Active Tourer that starts deliveries next month.
“Sales have been going well globally, and have been especially strong in Europe,” Ola Kaellenius, head of Mercedes sales, said in a statement this week. Compact cars and sport-utility vehicles “proved to be the key drivers.”
Another record-setting year
The three companies are all targeting at least a fourth consecutive year of record deliveries in 2014, and all said this week that they’ve sold the most cars ever for the year-to-date period. BMW’s lead against Mercedes in the seven months through July narrowed 7.7 percent from a year earlier, and Audi’s shrank by 0.7 percent.
Mercedes delivered a total 130,003 cars in July, propelled by an 85 percent surge in demand for the S-Class following the introduction of a new version of the top-of-the-line model late last year. The GLA SUV started deliveries in March, contributing to a 31 percent jump in demand for compact vehicles in July.
BMW’s July sales amounted to 139,399 vehicles, with seven-month deliveries rising 10 percent to almost 1.03 million, the company said in a statement. Demand in the year to date was pushed up by SUVs, with a 31 percent gain for the full-sized X5 and deliveries of the X4 starting last month. BMW didn’t release sales breakouts by model for July.
Audi, the Ingolstadt-based premium division of Volkswagen AG, sold 144,000 vehicles last month, and seven-month sales rose 11 percent to 1.01 million cars. Deliveries of the entry-level A3, which started U.S. sales of a sedan version in April, jumped 52 percent last month while demand for the A6 sedan increased 14 percent, helped by gains for a long-wheelbase variant in China.
BMW is introducing 16 models this year, compared with Audi’s plans for 17 new or revamped vehicles, and it plans to deliver more than 2 million vehicles in 2014, including the Mini small-car and Rolls-Royce ultra-luxury marques. BMW’s group seven-month sales rose 7 percent to 1.18 million autos, while Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Cars division, including the Smart city-car brand, posted an 11 percent gain to 967,850.
At the end of July, the Mercedes brand lagged behind BMW by 112,224 cars this year and was 99,827 deliveries behind Audi.